Examine the relationship of Catherine and Heathcliff as presented in the first nine chapters of the novel

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English Essay                                                                                                7/10/01

                                                                                                                Zenas Yiu

Examine the relationship of Catherine and Heathcliff as presented in the first nine chapters of the novel

The relationship of Catherine and Heathcliff is central to the story of Wuthering Heights. Most events in the novel stem from this relationship and it plays a crucial part in getting Bronte’s ideas across to the readers. Their physical and social difference makes their relationship fascinating and their different characteristics the more so.

Their relationship was first hinted at when Lockwood reads Catherine’s diary. She exclaims ‘Poor Heathcliff’ showing her sympathetic attitude to Heathcliff differentiated treatment – “won’t let him sit with us, nor eat with us any more…he and I must not play together”. Here, in the early stages of the novel, Bronte gives us a glimpse of their close relationship as childhood playmates. She elaborates further on in the novel via the mouth of Nelly Dean. Nelly first mentions the start of their relationship as a perpetually physical bond – “The greatest punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from him.” The reason for this close relationship was given to be Heathcliff’s willingness to let Cathy act as the “mistress” and command him. This start to their relationship was convincing since Cathy’s fiery and short-tempered character would not have made friends with anyone, let alone a stranger of the family, unless Heathcliff succumbed to her orders.

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Mr Earnshaw’s death was a major event in the life of Heathcliff. Of the three children, Mr Earnshaw liked Heathcliff most and therefore he was treated well despite having made enemies with both Hindley and Nelly Dean. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, his status as the loved one disappeared and he became the lowliest in the family. This was the point where he was differentiated from Cathy in status and consequently treatment. The aftermath of the incident showed exactly how far their relationship had developed – “The little souls were comforting each other with better thoughts than I could have hit ...

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